Doubts regarding the data on metals recycling in the United Kingdom

18 November 2016

Targets for the recycling of steel and aluminium packaging in the United Kingdom are based on inaccurate data, as revealed in a recent report by Wrap, Waste and Resource Action Program, the agency that manages waste and resources in the country, in collaboration with the Environment Ministry. In a recent study, the data regarding the quantities of aluminium and steel packaging placed on the market in 2012 and 2013 was examined, using data published by the Environment Ministry department Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). It was found that the volume of aluminium packaging has been underestimated, while that of steel packaging was overestimated. According to the most reliable estimates obtained from publicly available data, the amount of steel packaging placed on the market would have been equal to 524,000 tonnes in 2012, and 529,000 tonnes in 2013. In 2012, the amount of steel processed by accredited recyclers amounted to 358,000 tons, which would correspond to a recycling rate of 68%. A further 9000 tons would have bene transformed by non-accredited operators, bringing the rate of recycling to 70%. The volume of aluminium packaging placed on the market is valued at 178,000 tons for 2012, and 174,000 tonnes in 2013. The amount of this packaging processed by accredited recyclers amounted to 62,000 tonnes in 2012 for a recycling rate of 35%. Including the 19,000 tonnes transformed by non-accredited operators, the rate would reach 46%. In any case, the authors of the report conclude that in 2012 the target set by the EU was exceeded, which was a recycling rate of 50% for metal packaging.